Ambra Meda checks out the fine cantonese cuisine at the Wing Lei restaurant in Macau.
By Ambra Meda
As we move into Wing Lei‘s vast circular arched door, the mellowness and elegance of this Macau’s Cantonese restaurant replace the squeal and euphoria of the Wynn‘s surrounding baccarat tables and slot machines.
The ambiance immediately carries us to a land of magic. A huge crystal dragon, composed of 90,000 Swarovskis stares at us from the scarlet wall. Fuchsia orchids bouquets and golden inlaid vases border our way to our table, elegantly set with tone on tone cutlery.
The suffused jingling of some Asian triangle melody gives the final touch to an atmosphere that couldn’t be more fabulous.
Wing Lei’s manager, Betty Hu, takes care of us. “Here’s the menu”, she says, “but I recommend you our daily Chef’s special: Glass Noodles with Braised Butternut Squash and Wild Mushrooms“. The title alone is mouthwatering enough. Betty convinced us. Fifteen minutes later, though, we’re still leafing through the 13 page menu. “May I help you?” she asks. “Please”, we answer with a needy smile.
She calmly points out her suggestions, helping us to move deftly among the variety of options. In no time, she matches our starter, soup, entree and tea, not the easiest choice when the selection comes in 12 different varieties.
The ceramic pot, finely toned in the colors of black and white, embodies the attire of the whole restaurant.
Its subtle fruity fragrance is refreshing and crisp, and it evaporates at the end, lingering a floral aroma that’s attenuated by the grassy taste of green tea.
This lukewarm concoction flows ceaselessly in our cups, inducing our waitress to refill the pot countless times.
In the middle of our tea tasting, the starter arrives. Crispy deep Fried Bean Curd with Garlic and Chili Salt, laid down on a tasty, dried seaweed sheet. This protein–lipid complex, formed by layers of boiling soy milk, has a slightly rubbery texture. Once we bite the thin, crispy shell, the inside dissolves in our mouth. Its flavor, delicate and smooth, needs to be spiced up with the duo sauce of Cantonese Red Chilli and Mint Herbs Dip that comes along with it. One’s hotter, the other one more refreshing. We season our bites with alternate flavors.
“Here’s your Sweet Corn Soup with Chicken and Fish Maw“, says Betty a few minutes later. In Chinese cuisine, this membrane, coming from the air bladder of large fishes, is considered one of the most luxury ingredients. “The Wynn – reveals Betty – demands us to provide the best food, so our chef, Peter Chan, flies to Honk Hong twice a month to select the finest dried seafood, such as sea cucumbers and fish maws from Australia, or Amidori abalone from Japan”.
The result is a sweet and delightful bowl of daintiness.
“We aim to serve our dishes to perfection”, Betty claims proudly.
“We have a quality control station in our kitchen, and if a dish is not served in two minutes, our chef demands a new portion to be prepared. He says otherwise it loses the moment of its best taste”.
Only when the Noodle Dish arrives, do we come to understand what that means. Not only is the combination of squash and mushrooms a perfect condiment for these incredibly thin pasta threads, but the braised vegetables create a buttery glaze that gives the noodles a glutinous, luscious consistency.
The dish is outstanding. It’s just as delectable and sophisticated as the restaurant itself and it could be elected as a symbol of it.
The delicateness of this Asian flair is abruptly interrupted by our Sichuan Style Entree. This province of southwestern China is renewed for its bold, pungent flavors, which stems from the prominent use of garlic, chili pepper and peppercorn. As a result, our Wok Fried King Prawns with Chili Sauce are blazing indeed. The piquancy of the dish fires our taste buds, that are still relishing the mild, delicate flavors of our previous courses.
While scooping in the steamed rice bowl to mild the spiciness, we indulge on the shellfish. The pulp is perfectly cooked. Crispy and swollen, it explodes in our mouth after yielding under our teeth. A mixture of Peanuts and Choy Sum, edible stem of Chinese cabbage, adds the dish a crunchy bite.
Six tiny Chinese Pastries elegantly disposed in a wooden case.
The crispy patties, filled with egg and green tea custard are appetizing, but the two layer jelly of Osmanthus and Coconut Milk is the best. Its creamier, fruity base envelops the more solid, flower nectar gelatin in a sweet embrace. Small bites but thoroughly charged with flavor!
Wing Lei has recently been awarded with two Michelin stars. We’ll add another two. The noodle dish alone is worthy of them.
Rua Cidade de Sintra, NAPE, Macau
Tel: (853) 2888 9966
Fax: (853) 2832 9966
It is often said that Italians don’t eat to live, but live to eat. And to Ambra, philosophizing about food is no different than discussing art. She grew up as a devoted lover of all things Italian, from pumpkin gnocchi to pistachio gelato. After moving to the United States she discovered the pleasures of a new world of food. She eats, travels and writes for Still Served Warm.